By Bob Batz Jr. / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Matt Falenski has been selling his literally homemade mead -— fermented and often flavored honey and water — since 2011 as the Laurel Highlands Meadery. But now he can pour samples and sell glasses and bottles of the stuff at a commercial tasting room that he and his wife, Mandy, are opening at 106 Fourth St. in downtown Irwin.
The new space — a former pizza shop — opens Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. The rest of its regular hours to start are 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Mr. Falenski is still working day jobs in information technology and day and night as father of two boys, so he’s going to be extra busy.
Before this, you could find Laurel Highlands mead at a few local watering holes, including Piper’s Pub on the South Side and All Saints Brewing Co. near Greensburg. And he’s been selling bottles to Pennsylvania residents via his website, laurelhighlandsmeadery.com.
But to have his own place has been his plan from the start. “We kept on saying, ‘This spring …’ ‘This spring …’ ‘This spring ….’ We never gave an exact year, so we’re good.”
He’d considered opening a tasting and sales room in the century-old barn where he now makes the mead in Herminie, Westmoreland County, but Irwin’s business district has a lot more traffic, foot and otherwise, and lots of other businesses to work with, including the soon-to-reopen pizza shop next door.
Laurel Highlands Meadery will not serve any of its own food and, especially while the space is still under construction here at the start, won’t be anything fancy. It has an old hand-built basement bar and some wine barrels for tables.
To start, Mr. Falenski will be offering his traditional mead, bochet (made with roasted honey) as well as maple mead, cinnamon-vanilla mead, a saison mead and hopped mead. Flavors on the way include some spiced ones as well as a mead aged in a Dad’s Hat whiskey barrel.
Full Story: A new place to taste and buy mead
Meadery Profile: Laurel Highlands Meadery